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11:03 am - Mon 10/20/03
Jim Wrestles With The Question Of \"God\"...And Is Pinned In Three Seconds Flat

Jim Wrestles With The Question Of "God"...And Is Pinned In Three Seconds Flat
Mon 10/20/03 (3:03 a.m.)

I got home a little before 11:00 last night (Joe was closing, and gave me a ride; we put my bike in the back of his truck).

I've spent the past number of hours avoiding writing in here, and I think I pretty much know why: I've been tired beyond "tired" the past two days, and the demons are out in force.

One of the "demons"? The thought that my best days are behind me (And those "best days"? Not that good, really).

My life is a salvage job now. I'm trying to see if I can call someone to have my life towed, collect the $50, and call it good.

Tired. So...Very...Fucking...Tired.

How did I get here? What did I do so wrong that everyone else, by comparison, did so very right?

I keep being attacked by the sense that I've fucked up, and the only defense against that charge I have, which doesn't seem to be good enough somehow, is "I know I fucked up, Asshole! Why do you think I'm here? I'm trying to Un-fuck up!". Pathetic as it may be, this really is my effort to "put things right".

What else is there for me to do but what I'm doing, or trying to do?

Finished reading A New Christianity For A New World a couple days back.

I have absolutely no argument with his case against traditional, "theistic" Christianity. With a lot more scholarship and brainpower than I ever put into it, Spong seems to have reached my same conclusion, which is basically that you can't really believe this crazy shit (Okay, it sounded more "scholarly" when he said it, but that was the gist).

He still calls himself a Christian, and that's fine�You can call yourself anything you want, I guess�but I don't really see him as a "Christian". I think he's essentially a Taoist or Buddhist, who was raised in a Christian environment, became attached to the church, and is hanging on to some Christian terminology while following what is essentially a non-theistic, Eastern religion.

But all that's really neither here nor there.

I read, with interest, his explanation of how and why religion came into being: Basically, once humans became self-aware, we began to wrestle with existence, and perhaps more importantly, with our future non-existence. Add that to a whole lot of things early man could not explain, and voila! You have "religion", which makes sense of existence. "God", or a series of "gods", provided early man with a balm against the terror of non-existence, and answers to questions about the natural world man wouldn't be able to answer--until the scientific method came along--for many, many years.

That made sense to me. I've always thought�or at least for the majority of my life, I've thought�that it was apparent man created "God", and not vice-versa. The petty, jealous "God" I met in Sunday school, the one who told me I was inherently sinful, that I was going to burn in hell for the sin of doubting his existence, the one that needed a bloody sacrifice in order to forgive me, who needed me to bow and scrape and beg and plead...well, the older I got, the more nutty it seemed. And the more human "God" seemed, in the worst sense of the word.

And I read, with great interest, Spong's account of how "Jesus", as depicted in the Bible, becomes more and more "divine" the further away accounts get from his actual life (Spong suggests that, since Jesus didn't start out being "supernatural" in the Bible, that divesting him of that baggage does not neccessarily mean Christianity is destroyed in the bargain. I think that would be an interesting debate to hear held between him and a more traditional, "theistic" Christian).

To be "anti" traditional, theistic Christianity is "preaching to the choir" for me. And whether what Spong believes�Which seems basically to be a form of Eastern religion, with "God" as the "Tao" and "Jesus" subbing for Lao-tzu�is or isn't "Christianity" hardly matters to me, as a non-Christian in the first place.

What I was left wondering was, if there is no "God" who is a particular being (But who is, instead, "The Ground Of All Being"...whatever that means), if "Jesus" was basically a man who demonstrated in his life a connection with that "Ground Of All Being" (Or an understanding, however you want to put it), but was not "The Ground" himself, if there were/are no miracles, no heavenly intercession in our daily lives, no need to be cleansed of sin, no need to beg forgiveness in order to be let into the pearly gates...what's the difference between Spong's "Christianity" and an atheist who simply desires to be a good and decent person?

In the latter part of the book, I went from thinking Spong was basically a Taoist using Christian terminology, to thinking he was basically a secular humanist with some leftover Christian trappings.

I don't have any problem at all with Spong's belief system, as I understood it. I emailed Kathy B. about it, and I think one thing I said was that it's impossible for me to imagine anyone being hurt by his beliefs, and that's saying a lot; I think it's unarguable that a whole lot of evil has been perpetrated in God's name over recorded history. Blacks, women, gay people, people of other faiths, etc and so forth;. I don't think there's any way to calculate how many people have been wounded, or worse, by what's supposed to be a religion of love and compassion and forgiveness.

But I didn't come away feeling like Spong's belief in "God" was anything that would really make much of a difference in my own life. He seems to think you should try to make the world a better place by being here. That you should "Be all that you can be", to steal the Army recruitment line, and that you should help other poeple be all they can be as well. "Golden Rule" stuff, basically, which has always seemed like a pretty good idea to me (And it's an idea which, I understand, is represented in pretty much every major religion, even those pre-dating Christianity).

But I already know I want to "be all I can be". I already want to be more loving, more giving. I already want to make things better here somehow, to have a positive impact. Why do I need "God" for that? (And you have to remember �that's pretty much the whole ball-of-wax here. Spong's God isn't going to save me from hell, or help me win the big ball game, or cure my baldness, or any of that).

Sort of feel like I walked out, after reading the book, pretty much the way I walked in�Unable to believe in the God of my childhood, and unsatisfied by some "New Age-ish" variation-on-a-theme. Or not really "dissatisfied"�Spong's God, and the resulting "religion" he espouses, sound like an improvement in just about every way on what I grew up with�but just not sure why I need that "God".

10:49 a.m.

About to go back to bed for a bit, before getting up and doing some laundry...

I'm afraid I've mis-represented what Spong wrote in his book. But that's kind of the point of why I'm writing about it�I'm trying to figure out just what he was saying, and what it means in my own life.

I really did like a lot of what he had to say. His belief is very inclusive, and I like that, because it seems imminently sensible to me; How insane is it, really, for any one person or group to state with a certainty that they have a lock on the "Truth"-- of "God", or "existence", or whatever? (That was one of those theological questions I always had a tough time with�"So if I'm a half-assed Christian, I'm going to heaven because I lucked out and picked the �right' religion, but a devout Buddhist�Or Muslim, or Hindi, or whatever�is going to hell?").

He suggests that God cannot directly be known or seen, but can only be implied from what we can see, or "suggested" from our words (The Bible, The Koran, the Tao Te Ching, etc). And I like that as well, because it suggests that we're always going to be in the process of figuring out what's what, of growing, basically.

Well, I'm still not really done here�I'm feeling like one journal entry isn't really going to do it on this topic�but I've got to hit the sack.

Nighty-nite, Fellow Travellers...


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